Carrie Rengers

Music Theatre Wichita’s swinging singer a social media hit

Music Theatre Wichita always gets a lot of attention in the summer months when it stages five productions every 10 days, but this week the theater had a social media first.

A video that producing artistic director Wayne Bryan put on Facebook of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” cast member Karen L. Robu simultaneously swinging from a chandelier and hitting some high notes passed 8,500 views within three days.

“That’s quite extraordinary for us,” Bryan says. “We’ve never seen anything go as viral as that so quickly.”

Robu’s performance stole the show.

“Everybody was talking about it,” Bryan says. “She’s pretty extraordinary.”

Robu says, “It’s been fun to make people really laugh in kind of the negative climate we’re in right now.”

She says the choreographer had warned her to start preparing her hand strength a few months in advance of official rehearsals.

“I got one of those little squeezy things,” she says. “I also started doing planks at home.”

Last summer, Robu’s husband put a zip line up for their youngest daughter, so Robu says she jokingly practiced on it once while singing.

She posted something on Facebook about it and asked, “Do you think this is what Stanislavski meant by, ‘An Actor Prepares’?”

Robu says shoulder strength was the real issue. That, and she’s afraid of heights.

“A lot afraid of heights, actually.”

She says she felt in control, though, so it was OK.

Robu, too, was surprised how quickly Bryan’s video traveled.

“The positive response has been really affirming.”

She says in general, Wichita is a great place to perform.

“People are just so appreciative.”

Bryan says Music Theatre fans should keep an eye out for more social media posts.

“We’re handling our social media differently this year,” he says.

That includes sharing snippets of scenes. Bryan says he’s not permitted to share full scenes.

Robu has a small part in the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” as a wardrobe, which requires a huge costume and a giant wig, and in “Mama Mia!” later in the season.

She also has a day job as associate minister for Plymouth Congregational Church.

Robu says a number of her parishioners came to see “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

“They were all teasing me on Sunday saying they were glad the chandeliers in the sanctuary were too high for me to reach.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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